Calm gulf breezes caress diners as they feast upon time-tested grill fare from Paradise Tiki Hut Bar & Grill's menu. Dig into oceanic treasures without being subjected to slideshow of Poseidon's vacation by ordering south Florida shrimp ($7.95 for half a pound) flanked by homemade cocktail sauce or Bahamian conch fritters fried to a golden brown ($6.95). While the apple-wood-smoked bacon saunters atop veggies and sourdough toast in the BLT ($5.75), tender chicken breast splashes gleefully through authentic jerk seasoning in the Jamaican-style grilled chicken sandwich ($8.45).
Tucked inside a fisherman's lodge built in 1926, Tarpon Lodge Restaurant's chefs craft upscale American dishes and a succulent selection of seafood, securing it Gulfshore Life magazine's 2011 Best Place to Eat and Never Leave award. Warm up appetites with a steamy serving of blue crab and roasted-corn chowder, one of the lodge's most popular items ($4.95/cup; $6.95/bowl). White-wine lemon sauce mediates a delectable truce between surf and turf with the dinner menu's chicken and crab—layers of chicken breast and crabmeat supplemented by sautéed spinach and garlic ($19.95). Chefs slow-roast pork marinated in a Cuban-style sauce before sending mojo pork forth to rumba with rice, black beans, and caramelized plantains ($15.95/dinner; $12.95 lunch). The lunch menu's noontime fare includes savory sandwiches, wraps, and a char-grilled bacon cheeseburger topped with applewood bacon, bookended by a brioche bun, and fired directly into the mouth by a cannon ($10.95).
The secret behind Carmine Street NY Pizza & Mussels’ New York–style slices is the restaurant’s stone-brick oven, which sears dough until it attains the style’s signature crispy, thin-crusted crunch. However, Chef Anthony knows that a great pizza relies on more than its base, so he tops dough with gourmet ingredients such as chicken marsala, meatballs, and fresh baby spinach.
Like a graphic novel about pearls, the restaurant also features a few oceanic alter egos. Mussels, shrimp, and calamari are delivered to the kitchen daily, allowing chefs to toss them with wine, herbs, and pasta, or quickly fry them for fresh appetizers. Calzones, paninis, and entrees of chicken piccata are among the menu's classic Italian meals. Diners may pair meals with wines and cocktails procured at the full liquor bar, or take in the soothing streams of live music while feasting indoors or on the patio.
When they moved from Michigan to Florida, the owners of Jim's Coney Island left behind the cold weather, but didn't forget a recipe for the Great Lake State's much-loved Coney Island hot dog. At their Cape Coral eatery, they recreate the tasty dog seven days a week using Michigan-made hot dogs—which are specially seasoned and made with their natural skin casing—piled high with mounds of chili, mustard, and onions. Chefs also pay tribute to other cities' signature dishes, such as a philly cheesesteak and a classic new york reuben, while also preparing gooey calzones, hot wings slathered in four types of sauces, and hand-tossed pizzas made with butter, butter cheese, garlic butter, or garlic-salt flavored crusts. The menu's all-day breakfast invites diners to enjoy fluffy three-egg omelets and sweet french toast platters at any hour of the day.
It’s no surprise that people love Anthony’s on the Blvd, which received five awards from the Cape Coral Daily Breeze this year, including best restaurant. With its laid-back atmosphere, the casual eatery serves up feasts of American and Italian classics such as lasagna and barbecue-grilled ribs, inviting crowds to pile into the dining room or out onto the outdoor patio for drinks and live music. In addition to weekly specials—all-you-eat pasta on Wednesdays and fish-fry Fridays among them—there’s also nightly entertainment ranging from poker games to karaoke to stand-up-comedy shows. The family-friendly vibe is tuned up Sunday–Wednesday nights, when kids eat free after 4 p.m.
Owners Ines Josupeit and chef James King join culinary forces at Table 209, a bistro tucked into the historical buildings and sunny harbor walk of Punta Gorda. James brings his 20 years of experience working in kitchens throughout San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland to the restaurant, cobbling fresh seafood, prime meats, and seasonal ingredients into innovative gourmet dishes. Every Monday night, Ines grabs the culinary baton, pulling from her own German heritage to simmer up an authentic menu of traditional German sausages and potato pancakes. Out in the dining room, local artwork festoons the walls, as guests sit around white tablecloths, illuminated by flickering candles that stop passing cavemen dead in their tracks. Outside in the patio, glimmering strands of hanging lights cascade above rows of tabletops and lush plants.